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Bullying in the Workplace. Marielke Pritchard and Sophie Pritchard. Overview. Introduction What is and isn’t Workplace Bullying? The Scale and Costs of Workplace Bullying The Consequences of Workplace Bullying Scenario Method and Results Model and Formulation Alternative Formulation

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Bullying in the Workplace

Marielke Pritchard and Sophie Pritchard

  • Introduction
    • What is and isn’t Workplace Bullying?
    • The Scale and Costs of Workplace Bullying
    • The Consequences of Workplace Bullying
  • Scenario
  • Method and Results
  • Model and Formulation
  • Alternative Formulation
  • Interventions
  • Evaluation
  • Viability
  • Summary
what is isn t workplace bullying
What is & isn’t Workplace Bullying?

Group Brainstorming Session

operational definition
Operational Definition

“Repeated and persistentnegative acts towards one or more individual(s), which involve a perceived power imbalance and create a hostile work environment.”

(Salin, 2003, p.1214).

The frequency and duration is the key to bullying. Typically, single, isolated negative acts are not considered bullying.

the scale cost of workplace bullying
The Scale & Cost of Workplace Bullying
  • March 2004 – DTI announced £1m funding for workplace bullying project with Amicus trade union. (The Guardian Newspaper, March 2004).
  • 1 in 4 people are bullied at work (Hoel & Cooper, 2000).
  • 77% reported witnessing bullying at work (Rayner & Cooper, 1997).
  • Workplace bullying costs economy £4bn a year. (The Guardian Newspaper, March 2004).
consequences of workplace bullying individual costs
Consequences of Workplace Bullying - Individual Costs
  • Destruction of self confidence/self esteem (Beasley & Rayner 1997)
  • Feelings of shame/damage to identity (Lewis 2004)
  • Increased stress and stress related illness (Hoel & Cooper 2000)
  • Suicide and premature death (Leymann 1992d)
  • Violation of psychological contract
  • Decreased job satisfaction, performance and motivation (Turney 2002)
  • ‘Ripple effect’ (Beasley & Rayner 1997)
consequences of workplace bullying organisational costs
Consequences of Workplace Bullying - Organisational Costs
  • Workplace bullying leads to 18 million lost working days per year (Hazards Magazine issue 70)
  • Increased turnover (Keashly & Jagatic 2003)
  • Increased cost of recruitment and training
  • Low workforce morale (Rayner & Hoel 1997)
  • Decreased productivity and performance (Field 2001)
  • Decreased employee commitment (Hoel et al 2003)
  • Potential litigation (Earnshaw and Cooper 1996)
  • Adverse media attention, negative impact on corporate image

Pritchard & Pritchard Consultancy were approached by Shropshire County Council LEA and the principal of Oswestry College of Further Education, Ms. Hill.

Following a poor OFSTED inspection report, from this previously high performing college, there were concerns about teacher motivation and performance.

Training in time management and interpersonal skills was requested for all employees by the LEA representative and the College Principal.

  • Interviews - use of rep grids
  • Sickness & absence records
  • Turnover figures
  • Disciplinary & Grievance procedures and records
  • Provided:
    • Context: History & Systems
    • Meaning to the individuals
    • Assumptions
    • Language utilised
results of analysis
Results of Analysis
  • Historic data revealed decreased performance corresponded with hire of new Principal
  • Principal - Scientific Management assumption
  • Employees uneasy about authoritarian leadership style
  • Principal ignored the concerns of employees and rejected criticism from experienced staff.
  • Abdication of responsibility by Principal
  • Fear of Principal by some employees
  • One individual being particularly ‘targeted’
  • From our evidence gathering and analysis;
  • Not a simply a performance issue
  • Existence of a bullying culture apparent
    • This has negative effects on motivation and performance
model salin 2003
Motivating structures
  • and processes
  • Internal competition
  • Reward system
  • Bureaucracy
  • Precipitating processes
  • Restructuring
  • Organisational change
  • Change in management
  • Enabling structures
  • and processes
  • Perceived power imbalance
  • Low perceived costs
  • Dissatisfaction/Frustration

Bullying possible and more likely

Model (Salin 2003)
  • Our formulation is based on the assumption that a bullying culture exists.
  • Formulation:
    • Bullying is not just an individual level issue
    • It is also an organisational level issue
alternative formulation
Alternative Formulation
  • The dysfunctional individual:
    • A bully is someone who has failed to resolve childhood issues successfully, (Thylefors 1987).
    • However, it is argued that the classic psychopathic bully is very rare (Rayner & Hoel 1997).
    • Fails to consider the wider context.
  • The interventions flow from our formulation that;
    • Bullying, rather than being solely an individual issue, is primarily an organisational problem.
  • Therefore, intervention is required at two levels;
    • Organisational Level
    • Individual Level

Overall Aim

Through employee participation…..

to develop an organisation wide anti-bullying culture in which workplace intimidation and abuse are not allowed to flourish

interventions organisational level
Interventions – Organisational Level


  • Bullying Education Workshops
  • Attitude Survey
  • Creation of Anti-bullying policy
    • High profile with visible “sponsorship” of initiative from above
  • Induction for all new employees
    • Highlight the strong anti-bullying culture – socialisation process
  • Training Workshops
    • e.g. bullying awareness, assertiveness and interpersonal skills
    • Active rollout of anti-bullying policy to all existing employees
interventions organisational level1
Interventions – Organisational Level


  • Selection and Assessment
    • Introduction of Behaviour Description Interviews for selection
  • Performance Review
    • Introduction of regular 360 degree performance appraisals
  • Counselling
    • Impartial contact and EAP assistance
interventions individual level
Interventions – Individual Level


  • Coaching
    • For those identified as bullies
    • For those “at risk” of becoming bullies

Source: Hazards Magazine, issue 70

  • Attitude survey at T1 and T2
  • Maintenance of detailed absence and turnover records
  • Introduction of exit interviews for all employees
  • Employee appraisals
  • Interventions take place on inset days
  • Low monetary expense relative to the costs of allowing bullying to continue:
      • Labelled as “failing institute”
      • Loss of human capital
      • Increased use of supply teachers
  • Workplace bullying is widespread
  • Consequences are costly for both the individual’s involved and for the wider organisation
  • Workplace bullying should be viewed as an organisational problem, not just an individual problem
  • Therefore, the interventions need to be targeted at both the individual and organisational level
  • Armenakis, A.A., Harris, S.G., & Mossholder, K.W. (1993). Creating readiness for organizational change. Human Relations, 46(6), 681-703
  • Beasley, J. & Rayner, C. (1997). Bully at Work: After Andrea Adams. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 7, 177-180.
  • Church, A.H. & Waclawski, J. (2001). A Five Phase Framework for Designing a Successful MultiSource Feedback System. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 53 (2), 82-95.
  • Davidoff, F. (2002). Shame: the elephant in the room. British Medical Journal, 324, 623-624.
  • Earnshaw, J & Cooper, C.L. (1996). Employers’ liability for workforce stress. PD. London
  • Field, T. (2001). Workplace Bullying. Retrieved on 25th January 2005 from
  • Field, T. (2002). Staffroom bullying. Retrieved on 24th January 2005, from
  • Guardian Newspaper. (March 24th 2004). Hewitt acts to stop workplace bullying, Sarah Hall,. Retrieved on 24th January 2005 from,12189,1176621,00.html
  • Hazards Magazine (issue 70). Retrieved on 24th January 2005, from
references cont
References Cont..
  • Haslam, S.A. (2004). Psychology in Organizations: The Social Identity Approach. (Second Edition). London. Sage Publications.
  • Hoel, H. & Cooper, C.L. (2000). Destructive conflict and bullying at work. Manchester School of Management, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. As cited in Salin, 2003 and Field, 2001.
  • Hoel, H. & Salin, D. (2003). Organisational antecedents of workplace bullying. In S. Einarsen, H. Hoel, D. Zapf & C. Cooper (Eds). Bullying and emotional abuse in the workplace: International perspectives in research and practice. London. Taylor and Francis.
  • Huffcutt, A.I., Weekley, J.A., Wiesner, W.H., Groot, T.G. and Jones, C. (2001). Comparison of situational and behaviour description interview questions for higher-level positions. Personnel Psychology, 54 (3), 1-20.
  • Keashly, L. & Jagatic, K. (2003). By another name: American perspectives on workplace bullying. In S. Einarsen, H. Hoel, D. Zapf & C. Cooper (Eds). Bullying and emotional abuse in the workplace: International perspectives in research and practice. London. Taylor and Francis.
  • Korsgaard, M.A. (1996). The impact of self-appraisals on reactions to feedback from others: The role of self-enhancement and self-consistency concerns. Journal of Organizational Behaviour, 17(4), 301-311.
  • Lewis, D. (2004). Bullying at work: the impact of shame among university and college lecturers. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 32(3), 281-299.
  • Lewis, M. (1992). Shame, the Exposed Self. New York: The Free Press. As cited in Lewis, 2004.
references cont1
References Cont..
  • Leymann, H. (1992d). Psyiatriska problem vid vuxenmobbning. Derapport 3, Arbetarskyddsyrelsen, Stockholm. As cited in Rayner and Hoel, 1997.
  • Niendenthal, P.M., Cantor, N., & Kihlstrom, J.K. (1985). Prototype matching: A strategy for social decision-making. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48(3), 575-584.
  • Millward, L.J. (2005-in press), Understanding Occupational and Organizational Psychology. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
  • O’Moore, M., Seigne, E., McGuire, L. & Smith, M. Victims of bullying at work in Ireland. Journal of Occupational Health and Safety, Australia and New Zealand, 14(6), 568-574.
  • Porras, J. & Silvers, R. 1991. Organizational development and transformation. Annual Review of Psychology, 42: 51-78.
  • Rayner, C and Cooper, C. (1997). Title unknown. Leadership Organisation Development Journal, Issue unknown, 211-214. As cited by Retrieved on 24th January 2005.
  • Rayner, C. & Hoel, H. (1997). A summary review of literature relating to workplace bullying. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 7, 181-191.
  • Salin, D. (2003). Ways of explaining workplace bullying: A review of enabling, motivating and precipitating structures and processes in the work environment. Human Relations, 56(10), 1213-1232.
  • Slessenger, N. (2004). Bullying must be tackled at the outset, not just ignored. Personnel Today, 13 April 2004, p16.
references cont2
References Cont..
  • Tehrani, N. (2003). Counselling and rehabilitating employees involved with bullying. In: Einarsen, S., Hoel, H., Zapf, D. & Cooper, C.L. (Eds.), Bullying and Emotional Abuse in the Workplace: International Perspectives in Research and Practice. London: Taylor & Francis.
  • Thylefors, I. (1987). Syndebokar. Om utstotning och Mobbning I Arbetslivet. Natur og Kulture, Stockholm. As cited in Rayner and Hoel, 1997.
  • Turney, L. (2002). Mental Health and workplace bullying: the role of power, professions and ‘on the job’ training. In: Morrow, L., Verins, I. & Willis, E. (Eds), Mental Health and Work: Issues and Perspectives (pp. 135-148). Ausienet: The Australian Network for Promotion, Prevention and Early Intervention for Mental Health. As cited in Lewis, 2004.